Last season saw Manchester City finish top of the Premier League pile as champions, and their job this summer is to equip themselves to stay there for what will no doubt be a fiercely competitive season once again. City scored the most goals ever recorded in an English season (all competitions) as they won the Premier League and League Cup last season, and it leaves the defense as the area requiring the most improvement in this offseason.
So far, Bacary Sagna has joined on a free transfer from Arsenal, Bruno Zuculini has been signed from Racing in Argentina, Willy Caballero was acquired from Malaga and Fernando Reges was snapped up for £12m from FC Porto. Current reports suggest that Fernando’s now former Porto teammate, Eliaquim Mangala, is also set to join, with only an official announcement necessary to finalize the deal and make it official.
To this point, along with Chelsea, you would have to say that City are the team that has really zeroed in on strengthening their weakness in this window. These are no unnecessary strikers or creative players — just players to fulfill their actual needs. The biggest of those needs was a center-back to start alongside Vincent Kompany, and it looks as though that objective will be fulfilled any day now with the announcement of Mangala joining the club.
After that issue, they needed players to really bolster their squad because the drop-off when certain players were rested last season was just too big, and players like Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and Pablo Zabaleta all played far too much without sufficient rest. That shouldn’t happen again this year, though, with the new players coming in and even some impressive young players returning from loan spells too, like Karim Rekik.
It gives City a good balance of youth and experience, and Sagna and Caballero will be two players who will further add to the experience already at the club with their arrivals. The goalkeeper Caballero has been impressive over a long period of time in La Liga, and he should challenge Joe Hart for the No. 1 jersey to better effect than Costel Pantilimon did. After a shaky spell last season, City will be hopeful that the competition will bring out the best in Hart and also evoke the consistency that the club needs from their No. 1 goalkeeper.
The right-back Sagna will reliably allow Zabaleta to get the correct amount of rest time now too and keep him fresh throughout the season. After becoming a very important player for the club in recent seasons, the Argentine has been expected to play far too much, but he should now get the rest he needs. Fernando will provide likewise strength in midfield, as he is capable of starting at any time for the team and he is very reliable whenever he plays. The Brazilian will also bring more of a defensive aspect to the City midfield, as Fernandinho is not naturally a defensive midfielder but more of a box-to-box type instead.
At times last season, the City midfield did get stretched as Fernandinho and Toure were a little too adventurous together. Having Fernando now, though, means that will be more acceptable and much less of a risk if at times all three of the central midfielders do indeed play together. The headline signing, though, will be Mangala, and that is the one void that City really needed to fill in this window. Anything else was idealistic, but a center-back was a necessity.
City ended last season on top, and with the smart business they’re doing so far in this window, they haven’t been budged from that position just yet. Their rivals are improving but not all are improving in the areas they actually need to. City are going about their business quietly and confidently, and so far, they look to be positioning themselves nicely ahead of the new season.